Wednesday, September 27, 2017

You Can't Be an Ally Unless You're Willing to Own Your Failures

Okay, listen up fellow white people, we need to talk.

White people seem to bounce erratically between two equally problematic ways of engaging with race: 

1. Doing Something Problematic and Refusing to Take Correction From People of Color Who Call You On It 

This is easy to recognize in non-allies. Wow, what a racist, we think when the Tami Laurens of the world plug their ears and yell "nah nah nah I can't hear you I'm not racist I just think all lives nah nah nah nah nah."

But all too often, liberal, progressive white "allies" will do the same thing. I believe in racial equality, but I think this is taking it a little too far, we say as soon as we're criticized. (Has anti-racism gone too far now that it specifically calls me out???) I can't be a racist, I have "intersectional feminist" in my Twitter bio, we say as we ignore the needs of women of color. I even donated to Black Lives Matter/have a "Coexist" bumper sticker on my car/attended a Muslim ban protest.

Guess what, white liberal? You — yes, you — will do something racist. You will be out there, trying your best to be a good ally, and you will eff. things. up. It's going to happen. And if you're lucky, some person of color will call you on it. They'll take time out of their lives and their struggle to offer you some free advice on how to be a better, less racist person.

And all too often, you'll toss that advice right in the trash and whitewash the entire cause you think you're supporting.

My American Heritage professor used this clip to illustrate the following point: no matter how good your intentions are, intentions are not outcomes. And outcomes, not intentions, are what harm people of color.

So no matter how good your intentions are, you are going to screw up and do something racist. I might even be doing it right now; I have good intentions with this blog post, but given Seinfeld's track record on race, it's totally possible that this clip might be problematic and totally tone deaf to share in a post about race and racism. (Please let me know if it is).

And here's the thing: if you ignore people of color when they call you on your shit, at least in this regard, you and Tammison Lohreyn are the same. Both of you are going to continue to do racist things, leading to problematic outcomes that affect people of color, because both of you are too d*ng proud to listen to people of color when they say things. Both of you somehow think your white ass is more qualified to judge what is and isn't racist or problematic than the people you are causing problems for.

So when you get called out, listen, learn, accept it, and move on. Do better.

2. Refusing to Do Anything Unless a Person of Color Holds Your Hand Every Step of the Way and Gives You a Magic Formula to Avoid Screwups In Every Future Interaction With Non-White People Ever


In some ways, this is the antithesis of the first problem. Whereas in the previous situation, you were overly brash and insensitive, now you're so timid and sensitive that you can't make any mistakes because you won't do anything at all.

This is problematic for a couple of reasons. The first, and most obvious, is that refusing to do anything means that you do nothing, which means that you sit back in your white privilege and make people of color do all the work to fix the system you're benefiting from.

The second issue is that in addition to leaving all the work to people of color, you're actually creating more work for them. Now they have to validate and coach you through every interaction, instead of using your common h*cking sense. You can treat people of color as humans without step-by-step instructions. You may not believe it, but I promise you, it's possible. Give it a try sometime.

Furthermore, this often leads to situations where white allies tokenize people of color. It becomes tempting, when in this mindset, to ask the nearest person of color to rule on any given issue of race and racism, which immediately puts them in the stressful position of having to give you a perfect magic formula for every situation you'll encounter for the rest of your life. Because they know that as soon as they tell you what to do, you're gonna circle right back around to position number one. (But what I just did can't be racist because my black friend said it's okay...)

White people: do not put people of color on the spot and ask them to give you magic anti-racism formulas! By all means, listen when they tell you things. Actively seek out their opinions. Find more opportunities to learn from them. Listen when they tell other people things and apply that to your own life. But don't expect people of color to be able to teach you enough to stop you from ever effing up. Nobody can teach us white people to never screw up. It's literally impossible, even for Morgan Freeman.

So even though this second situation may seem like the opposite of the first situation, they're both rooted in the same thing: a fear of failure. An unwillingness to engage the work without being called out on our racism. An unwillingness to admit to ourselves that we're racist, or put ourselves in a situation where we have to see our own racism.

Refusing to Learn From Your Racism Makes You A Worse Person Than Just Being Racist


Here's where I think this fear of failure comes from: from the time we're kids, we learn racism is bad. Only bad people are racist. And you, of course, are a good person, t h e r e f o r e, you cannot be racist. To admit that you have done a racist thing, held a racist belief, or otherwise been problematic about race is to admit that you are a bad person, and your whole worldview about yourself comes crashing down.

But here's the thing: plugging your ears and yelling "nah nah nah I'm a good person nah nah nah also my name is Tomi not Tami nah nah nah nah" doesn't make those racist attitudes of yours go away. In fact, it guarantees that they'll never go away, ever.

We're all a little racist. But being willing to face up to that fact is the only way we can check ourselves before we wreck ourselves and become a little less racist, one cringey mistake at a time.

So, my fellow white people, don't tokenize people of color. Don't put them on the spot and make them a de facto panelist on your conversation about race. Don't expect them to hand you a magic formula that will absolve you of all past and future racism. 

Do learn to admit when you're wrong. Do apologize and try to be better.. And do listen when people of color say things, and be sensitive to when they don't want to be saying anything at all.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Baby Protein Bowls

Hello, and welcome to the second installment of Jaclyn Dabbles In Pretentious Mommy Blogging™.

I made mjadara recently, and Zoë seemed to really enjoy the bite I gave her. Lentils are a great source of potassium, calcium, zinc, niacin, telepathy powers, vitamin K, dietary fiber, lean protein, laser vision, folate, and iron, so I thought I'd see if I could coerce my little cereal-hater into eating some more. Plus, lentils are a novel texture and taste for babies who are ready for slightly chunkier solid food, without posing a choking hazard.


1/4 cup lentils
2 cups water
3 tbsp butter
4 oz jar of vegetable baby food

  1.  In a small pot, combine the lentils and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes.
  2. Drain any excess water.
  3. Add the butter and stir until melted. (Saturated fats are actually really good for babies, but if you're morally opposed to butter and happiness in general, I suppose you could substitute olive oil or something).
  4. Add a jar of your baby's favorite flavor of vegetables. (I used sweet potatoes, because
    Zoë has no sympathy for the fact that sweet potatoes smell like someone stirred brown sugar into day-old vomit).
  5. Separate into fourish portions, and store in the refrigerator or freezer until use.
Zoë kept grabbing at the spoon and insisting on feeding herself, so I'd say the recipe was a success.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Baby Berry Bites

Shortly after buying a brand-new extra large container of infant cereal for Zoë, she decided that she didn't want to eat it anymore. Fruit was fine, vegetables were fine, and all sorts of grain-based baby snacks were fine, but infant cereal was out.

The Internets told me that this was fine, because infant cereal for babies is apparently a Big Agro conspiracy and you should really be feeding your babies raw liver. (Please, for the love of all that is holy, do not feed your babies raw liver, there are like ten thousand things wrong with that and I can't believe I actually have to type this sentence). 

Meanwhile, my pediatrician told me that Zoë needed to be getting half her solid food from infant cereal every day, or else. My pediatrician intimidates me a little bit, so I didn't feel like asking "or else what?".

And Zoë kept telling me that infant cereal was only good for spitting out in order to make high chair fingerpaint art.

I decided to let Zoë eat whatever healthy foods she wanted, so while I would occasionally mix cereal in with her fruit or yogurt, I still had this huge box of infant cereal sitting on my counter that wasn't going anywhere anytime soon. So, based on the popularity of "energy bites" for adults and recent guidelines suggesting that babies should be eating peanut butter as early as four to six months old, I went full Pinterest mom and made a trendy homemade baby food recipe.


1/2 cup infant cereal (I used Gerber Multigrain)
1/2 cup berries (I used a ~medley of raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries, because they had been in my freezer for over a year and I thought I should use them up)
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup Puffs baby snacks, or similar product

  1.  Puree the fruit until smooth
  2. Add the infant cereal and peanut butter; mix until evenly combined
  3. In a Ziploc bag, crush the Puffs into fine crumbs
  4. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper
  5. Roll the dough into small bites (no larger than 1 cm in diameter to minimize the risk of choking)
  6. Coat the dough in the Puffs crumbs, and place on the cookie sheet

  7. Freeze for an hour to set
  8. Store for up to two weeks in the fridge or four months in the freezer. (I made these numbers up. Just, like, don't leave them in your car for a month and decide they're still good to eat. Okay? Okay.) 
They were a little soft, so I'd recommend using a bib for younger or messier eaters. Keep in mind that unlike storebought baby snacks, these aren't designed to dissolve quickly, so make sure your baby is seated and supervised while eating.

Zoë absolutely loved these snacks, and I loved that they're full of iron-fortified grains, healthy fats, and antioxidants. 11/10 would make again.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Election Thoughts: When Good Men and Women Do Nothing

Okay, so I've seen a lot of posts about how it's inappropriate to say that all Trump supporters are racist/sexist/homophobic/Islamophobic/etc. And you know, I do believe that. I am perfectly willing to believe that there are plenty of Trump supporters whose votes weren't motivated by hatred or animus towards any of these groups.

But here's the thing: Trump and Pence are motivated by that animus. They do plan to implement policies that will separate children from their undocumented immigrant parents, that will erode the housing, education, and employment rights of LGBT people, that will lead to even legal immigrants losing their visas, that will attack the freedom of religion of Muslims, that will allow the Voting Rights Act to continue to be attacked in racially motivated ways, and that will do a whole lot more harm that I don't have time to list.

So if your voted for Trump, there are three broad categories I can think of for how you weighed the consequences of these issues:
-You voted out of hatred for these groups.
-You didn't think about these groups at all.
-You thought about these groups, and decided that other issues were more important.

And I understand that there were many issues in this election, that we all had to weigh them, and that some people may weigh them differently than I do. That is your right as an American citizen and you can be a good person while having different priorities than I do. But here's the thing: we all have to take responsibility for the moral calculus that was involved in our vote. We have to take responsibility for our actions, no matter what the motivation behind them was.

So if your motivation wasn't hatred, that's great. Really. I'm heartened to know that you personally don't hate these people. But that still means that you were either indifferent to the suffering these people would experience, or you decided that their suffering was less important to you than other issues.

And you need to own up to that. You need to own up to the fact that even though you didn't vote AGAINST us, you still voted in a way that would hurt us. You need to take responsibility for it, be kind to people who are hurting, and do everything you can in the next four years to mitigate that hurt as much as possible. Otherwise, the fact that you don't actively support the hurt doesn't mean anything, because it will still be happening because of who you voted for.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” - Edmund Burke

Sunday, November 6, 2016

It's Been A Year

I published some reflections on the policy change and the anniversary of my coming out on Facebook. I've decided to repost them here.

A year ago yesterday was the policy change, which many are calling the Policy of Exclusion. As I watched the controversy unfold over Facebook, I saw many good people, who I care about, say things about LGBT members that I knew they would never say to the face of someone they cared for. I saw many members claim that the policy was fine, because "those LGBT people" didn't want to be a part of the Church anyways, and this policy would make clear to the righteous that they weren't to be led astray by the rebellions of "those people."

And so a year ago today, I came out of the closet as bisexual. I had many reasons for doing this, but a major one was to show people that LGBT people are not this nameless, faceless, vaguely threatening group of "those people." We are people you know and love. We are in your wards. We hear what you say and write about us. And for those of us who have been born in the Church, many of us want very badly to be a part of it.

I have been fortunate, in that I was never forced to choose between having a family of my own and being in good standing with the Church. For the vast majority of LGBT members, an opposite-gender partner is not a viable option. I have tried to think of what it would have been like for me if I were forced to choose between my family and the Church. From the moment I met Mason, I knew how much happiness he would bring me. Would I have been able to glimpse that happiness, and turn away from it in favor of fifty years of celibacy? Would I have been able to deny myself a family while attending church week after week, a Church that constantly teaches that true happiness can only be found in families? I honestly don't know if I could.

I don't write this to try to convince anyone to change their mind about Church doctrine or even the policy. I write this to ask straight members to have empathy for the incredibly difficult sacrifice that the Church asks of its LGBT members. It is not the same as being as single straight member. Single straight members are encouraged to date. They are encouraged to pursue people who interest them. They are encouraged to hope for marriage. LGBT members are asked to suppress their feelings and wait until the next life to somehow figure this out. It is not the same. It is isolating and lonely and difficult.

Because of this, it is no surprise to me that some LGBT members eventually choose to pursue same-sex relationships in some capacity or another. This does not mean they don't want to be a part of the Church; indeed, many of them continue to try to continue to make our religion a part of their lives. And that's part of why this policy hurt - many felt like the Church was saying, "We don't want your efforts to continue to be involved in some way. You can stay and be lonely, or you can leave entirely."

I have seen many straight members claim that if LGBT members feel unwelcome, all they have to do is keep the commandments and they will feel welcome. This is an easy way to absolve the Church and its members from the hurt that LGBT members feel. It is comfortable to feel that you are not complicit in anyone's pain. It is comfortable to feel that there is an easy solution to pain.

I have two things to say to that. The first is that as a commandment-keeping, temple-married LGBT member, who doesn't even have to deal with the loneliness that most LGBT members experience, I can tell you that that isn't true. Simply keeping the commandments does not suddenly make the Church a welcoming place. There are plenty of things that have been done and said, from comments made in Sunday School all the way up to things said in General Conference, that have made LGBT members feel unwelcome, regardless of the status of their temple recommend. I am not referring to simple teachings of true doctrine. I am referring to hurtful things that have no place in the Gospel of Christ and no need to be said, ever, by anyone. And I am referring to the silence that implies agreement in the wake of those comments, the silence that says that we are not important enough to stand up for.

The second thing I have to say is, if possible, more important, and it is that as members of a Church that bears the name of Christ, we have the responsibility to do all we can to make sure that everyone feels the love of Christ through us, regardless of the commandments they are or are not keeping. Christ ate with publicans and sinners; He didn't do as the Pharisees did and wait for people to attain a certain standard of "worthiness" and then come to Him on their own. While teaching the Nephites after his resurrection, Christ taught:

"And behold, ye shall meet together oft; and ye shall not forbid any man from coming unto you when ye shall meet together, but suffer them that they may come unto you and forbid them not;
But ye shall pray for them, and shall not cast them out; and if it so be that they come unto you oft ye shall pray for them unto the Father, in my name.

Therefore, hold up your light that it may shine unto the world. Behold I am the light which ye shall hold up - that which ye have seen me do. [...]

And ye see that I have commanded that none of you should go away, but rather have commanded that ye should come unto me, that ye might feel and see; even so shall ye do unto the world; and whoseoever breaketh this commandment suffereth himself to be led into temptation. [...]

Nevertheless, ye shall not cast [people not keeping the commandments] out from among you, but ye shall minster unto him and shall pray for him unto the Father, in my name [...] ye shall not cast him out of your synagogues, or your places of worship, for unto such shall ye continue to minister; for ye know not but what they will return and repent, and come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I shall heal them." (3 Nephi 18)

The Savior makes it clear that it is not enough to simply passively say "Well, everyone is welcome at church if they really want to be there." We are supposed to *minister* to people. We are supposed to *actively work* to welcome them, just as He actively left the ninety and nine and sought after the one.

As a missionary, I brought all sorts of people to church and saw members make an effort to welcome them. People with prison tattoos. People reeking of cigarette smoke. People who were clearly not living the gospel. And I saw members go out of their way to make them feel loved and welcome. I saw members fellowship the same investigators for years, making them feel welcome and not judged while they explored the often complicated path of reconciling their life with the Church.

So don't tell yourself that LGBT people will feel welcome if they'd just keep the commandments, because there's no reason that they should be the exception to the fellowship that exists in Christ and has the potential to exist in each one of us. I have seen it in action. It is wonderful. It is healing. And every one of us LGBT members, whether we are keeping the commandments or not, needs that healing, because there has been so. much. hurt.

At minimum, I beg of you all to be very careful to not add to the burden that LGBT members carry, regardless of their activity level. But we are not a church that asks for the minimum. Don't settle for not adding to our burden. Please, help to bear it. Don't tell us that we're not doing enough to bear it on our own; all too often, those who are perceived of not doing enough have simply collapsed under the weight of it. Don't wait for us to come to you. Come to us, seek after us, welcome us, lift our burden upon your back, and help us return joyfully together to the peace of Christ's fold.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Adventures in Domesticity: The Couch

Okay, SO...

We moved into our new apartment, and since we still had the U-haul trailer until noon the next day, we figured we should take advantage of this opportunity to get a couch while we actually had a way to transport it. We could have just gone to DI or something and paid $40, but I wanted to see if we could get a couch for free, because college.

Someone on KSL was giving away a really nice green couch. Not a gross, someone-could-have-puked-on-this-and-I'd-have-no-idea green, but a contemporary green that would actually look nice. It looked a bit like this couch, except it had those armrests that curve on the inside and are straight on the outside:

Not your Grandma's weird green couch, is what I'm saying.
It was apparently just out on the curb and was free to whoever got there first. The only problem was, it was in Murray, which was about an hour away with traffic. Nevertheless, I decided I'd rather go on a vain quest for free furniture with a questionable history than unpack the apartment. Mason agreed to come along and we recruited my friend James to help lift it into the U-haul.

SO we had a really enjoyable, relaxing drive up through various highways and sub-highways while trying to merge with a trailer blocking our view out the back window. Despite the best efforts of other cars to get into pileups with multiple semi-trucks, we arrived in Murray. We turn onto the street, and pull towards the house only to see some jerk with a blue minivan in the process of loading the couch of destiny into their car.

Like, we literally got there five minutes too late.

There was another couch available in West Jordan, and the owner had said we could come by at 8 pm to pick it up. It was about 3:30 pm at this point, and I definitely didn't want to waste my gas and avoiding-near-death-highway-collisions quotas on going to Provo and coming back. James agreed to prolong our adventure and stop by the West Jordan house to see if anyone happened to be home.

After many, many, many detours, thanks to the stellar combination of Apple Maps and Utah road construction, we arrived on a quiet cul-de-sac and knocked on the door. A woman answered, looking confused, and I had a sudden flashback to my mission. All of my instincts insisted that I should start asking her about her religion, but instead I managed to communicate that we wanted to take her couch.

She shrugged and opened the garage, revealing a structurally sound couch covered in various types of gross. Mason and James loaded it into the car, and we agreed that it would probably be good with a vacuum and maybe some fabric cleaner. It seemed that our adventure had reached its successful conclusion.

Well, it seemed.

(Foreshadowing is hard, you guys. Also, you don't even need foreshadowing, you just need to follow me on Twitter and you'll already know what happens next.)

Ahem. Anyways.

So we're driving home on the I-15 and everything seems great. Of course, the combination of the trailer and Utah highways seems to be causing a little shaking, but we weren't worried about it.

The car began pulling to the right. We figured the couch had shifted, and kept driving.

The shaking got worse and worse. It seemed to be in line with the bumps that were regularly placed along every five feet of the corrugated road, though, so I thought everything was just fine.

But the shaking got worse, and suddenly we decided we needed to pull over RIGHT NOW. As we did so, a piece of rubber went flying past our window.


Strangely, I had been suppressing the urge to swear over completely minor moving things all day, but in this moment, the only thing that came to mind was "shoot."

To backtrack a bit, I had JUST FILLED UP THE TIRES the previous week, and everything seemed fine then. So I'm 91% sure that this blowout wasn't due to some sort of car maintenance negligence.

Anyways. So we're pulled over on the I-15 with semi trucks whizzing past us at 70 mph, and even though the shoulder is large enough to easily accommodate our car and trailer, I can't resist the feeling that I'm about to become a Jaclyn pancake.

Fortunately, a Highway Patrol guy shows up and puts his lights on behind us, which makes me feel safer. He supervises the tire change and loosens a few lug nuts (which were initially so tight that Mason and James had to stomp on the wrench and Mason got a pretty impressive bruise from it).

We get the spare tire put on, finally, and drive the rest of the way from Thanksgiving Point to Provo. Now I'm paranoid of every strange sound or smell, which is complicated by the fact that the shredded tire is in the trunk and filling the car with the scent of destroyed rubber.

So eventually we get home, clean up the couch, and decide to go to DI for the rest of the furniture we need.

I'm pretty sure the money we saved on the free couch is going towards fixing our tires now.

Totally worth it?

Adventures in Domesticity: The Pie

This post originally appeared on Facebook. I realized I have a lot of similar stories, and decided to make a series of it.

So today I got my homework done early, so I decided to make a casserole for dinner and do the laundry. I still had time in the evening, so I was like, hey, why not make a pie?
For some background, I had a bunch of frozen blueberries in the freezer and I had decided a few weeks ago that making a half-apple, half-blueberry pie in my divided pie plate was the most logical way to use them up before moving. I have no idea where I got that idea.
So I make the pie dough, and come across my first problem: my pie crust recipe makes enough for THREE TO SIX pies. THREE TO SIX, you guys! I started panicking and trying to think of contingency plans that would let me get rid of three to six pies in the space of a week.
Then I go to put the filling in the pie crust, and I realize I've made WAYYYYYY too much apple filling. So I'm like, no problem, I made about the same amount of blueberry filling, so I'll just make two pies. I thought I was halfway to solving problem #1.
Apple pie goes great. I put it in the freezer to make later in the week. Then I get out my other pie plate, and it's HUUUUUUUGE. Guys, I have no idea why it's so huge. But the blueberry filling only fills about 1/3 of the pie shell.
So I decide, okay, I'll stop by South End Market on the way to pick Mason up from work and buy more berries. Guys, blueberries are FIVE DOLLARS for a TINY LITTLE CARTON at South End. They're out of raspberries and I don't want to pit a trillion cherries at 9:30 pm, so I end up buying $7.50 worth of blackberries instead.
Now my blue- and blackberry pie is in the oven, an apple pie is in the freezer, I have some pie crust cookies ready to go, and my back hurts.
I have no idea why I thought blueberry pie would be the best way to get rid of my blueberries, but on the plus side, between the pies and the casserole I think I've completed 90% of the cooking I need to between now and moving.